The run up to Christmas and its much anticipated arrival is a time of joy and festivities; a time to reflect on the real reason why we celebrate. It’s a time to think about the often over ‘cuddly’ nativity scene of a clean stable and animals with cheeks as rosy as the humans; but we all know that was not the true picture of the first nativity scene.
So as the excitement begins to build in the run up to Christmas, this is the time spend a while thinking about that first nativity with the help of an Advent Bible study to get you into the real CHRISTmas spirit. As you can imagine there are plenty of Advent courses on offer - from the more traditional to new, creative studies that can be used as group or personal devotions.
An updated version of this post from 2016 can be viewed here.
Join the Journey
This year’s offering from BRF is Companions on the Bethlehem Road; a book of readings and reflections to take you through from the start of Advent to the big day itself. Written by the deputy editor of the Church Times, Rachel Boulding takes a different tack in this study as she draws on classic poetry alongside Bible passages to bring new meaning to the Christmas story. Focusing on God’s love for us in the story of Jesus, Rachel draws on poems from TS Eliot, Tennyson and Auden amongst others, and uses scripture passages from the lectionary to help you share in the journey through the Advent season.
Peer Through the Window
Windows on a Hidden World is a carefully constructed set of daily readings for Advent from SPCK taking you from the 1st of December to Christmas Day. Look through 25 themed windows as you explore topics such as God's Choice, Confliction and Confrontation, Nativity Scene and The Second Coming. Each window is a personal reflection from the author Jane Maycock with a scriptural verse, stanza of a poem or a prayer as she looks at the themes explored during the seasonal period. Each devotion is a few pages long and written to engage and make the reader think with short expositions and personal experiences.
Make a Difference
If you’re looking for a group study course for Advent then try Nick Fawcett’s Forgiving and Forgetting; a four session study that includes readings, prayers, activities, comments and discussion points to get your group chatting and reflecting. Each session looks at a different theme of Advent: Time for Giving, Time for Getting, Time for Forgiving and a Time for Forgetting.
Something for Yourself
For something for your own personal quiet times, look at Celebrating Christmas with Jesus; 30 days of devotions to help you reflect on the birth and life of Christ this Christmas from bestselling author and communicator, Max Lucado. At 80 pages, this shorter devotional is helpful, easy to follow, won’t take too long and will help you put Jesus back at the centre of your Christmas. Each day’s entry consists of a couple of verses of scripture and a reflection from various sources that Max has found inspirational for himself.
Finding Something New
The latest Advent study from CWR’s Cover to Cover series, The Time is Now, comes from author Amy Orr-Ewing. In this study, Amy tackles the festive period subjects of timing and purpose. Looking at God’s timing throughout the Bible, Amy uses scripture and reflections to help you consider and be encouraged by God’s plan and purpose for your life. 31 days of study will keep you focused right through the Advent season. This study also includes helpful group activities should you decide to run the study in your small group or at church.
Five and More to Choose
These are just four of the many helpful Advent studies available for your personal reflection or for your small group. Make sure you take full advantage of this Christmas season and take time out to consider the beauty of the Christmas story. How ever you choose to celebrate this year or which traditions you love to follow, the truth remains; Jesus really is the reason for the season. So enjoy spending time with Him this Advent, and on the run up to your Christmas. - Anna Bunn
An updated version of this post was written in 2016 ands can be viewed here.
November 9th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Anna Hockley